Graduate Certificate Programs in Social Media Marketing and Management
College graduates who are interested in learning how to leverage the mass communication and targeted marketing potential of social media can do so in social media marketing graduate certificate programs. These programs are designed for students who hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, including recent college graduates, mid-career professionals, and master’s and doctoral program graduates. Students in these programs learn to apply principles of marketing and mass communication across a range of social media platforms, analyze social media metrics, and integrate social media into an organization’s broader marketing and communications operations.
Social media marketing graduate certificate programs are offered by accredited colleges and universities. They are academic programs that do not culminate in the conferral of a degree and thus require students only to complete a small cluster of courses that cover topics relevant to understanding the principles and professional practices of marketing through social media platforms and applications. The courses that comprise a social media marketing certificate program – four or five courses is common – can typically be completed in under a year, or roughly half the time it takes to earn a graduate degree in digital or social media marketing. Indeed, one of the primary advantages of these programs is that they allow qualified students to receive highly specified graduate-level training and instruction in social media marketing strategies and principles, without the commitment of time and resources required to pursue a full graduate degree in the field.
Social Media Marketing Explained
The proliferation and growth of social media platforms has created new avenues for companies, organizations, brands, and individuals to market products, services, and ideas. Social media marketing professionals study the dynamics of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, analyze audience demographics and preferences, and apply principles of mass communication to furthering strategic objectives in areas like public relations, brand recognition and loyalty, consumer choice, audience engagement, and overall market performance. This work, which has applications in business, commerce, government, healthcare, and many other fields, requires a sophisticated understanding of consumer behavior (including how and why people use different social media platforms), social media tools and technologies, and the fundamentals of marketing and mass communications.
Social media marketers use their knowledge and skills to create digital content, devise social media strategies, manage social media accounts, and conduct analyses of the effectiveness of their social media marketing efforts. They work for companies and organizations, individuals, and/or political, social, and public policy groups who have integrated or are integrating social media into their marketing strategies and leveraging the power of social media to better engage with the public.
Identifying and Classifying Social Media Marketing Graduate Certificate Programs
Like other types of graduate certificate programs, social media marketing graduate certificate programs have several key identifying characteristics. They are academic programs offered by accredited colleges and universities that culminate in the conferral of a certificate rather than a degree; they consist of a narrowly focused cluster of courses that prepare students for professional advancement; and they are designed for students who have already completed their undergraduate studies and who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. In addition, social media marketing certificate programs, which may be designated as graduate or post-baccalaureate certificate programs, offer a curriculum in which the principles and practices of marketing are applied to the processes of creating, coordinating, and managing coherent and effective social media marketing strategies and campaigns. These programs may also address digital, internet, and/or integrated marketing communication (IMC) strategies, but the primary focus of the curriculum is on the use of social media in marketing operations.
Note: Graduate certificate programs in social media are different from professional/brand certifications in social media that are offered by companies for their various platforms. For example, HubSpot, Google (i.e. Google Analytics), Wordstream, Twitter, and other technology companies have professional certification programs that can be used to demonstrate that an individual has expertise in their specific tools and/or platforms. However, as these programs are designed for each specific platform, they do not provide students with advanced, versatile, and cross-platform training in social media strategy and management.
Social Media Marketing Graduate Certificate Coursework
While program names for graduate certificate programs in social media vary by school, there are some common program names that are used by schools, including but not limited to, graduate certificate programs in social media management, digital and social media marketing, social and online media marketing, and marketing with a specialization in digital marketing or social media. What these programs have in common, regardless of their names, is a curriculum that focuses on the effective and coordinated use of social media in marketing operations. While course names, course descriptions, and the specific content of individual courses varies by school and by program, a social media graduate certificate program curriculum generally covers topics in contemporary marketing concepts, the design and management of professional social media marketing campaigns, social media content creation, and web and social media analytics.
The list below offers a representative overview of the types of courses that are commonly part of social media marketing graduate certificate programs, based on an analysis of post-baccalaureate certificate programs in social media offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
- Introduction to the Digital Era: The Power of Social Media
- Social Media Strategies & Tactics
- Digital Era Skills: Platforms, Tools, Techniques
- Writing for Social Media
- Advertising and Branding Using Social Media
- Implementation and Management of Social Media Channels and Online Communities
Depending on the school and the specific courses taken, students may be able to transfer credits earned in a graduate certificate program towards a master’s degree in social media. Indeed, some schools even offer this option as a pathway towards earning a master’s degree. Students who might be interested in earning a master’s degree in the future may want to explore programs that provide this option to ensure the credits they earn will indeed transfer towards an eventual master’s degree.
Online Social Media Graduate Certificate Programs
Most schools that offer graduate certificates structure these programs to accommodate a broad range of students, including mid-career professionals and others who may want to continue working full-time while taking classes. As a result, classes are often scheduled in the evenings or on weekends, and enrollment policies for many of these programs are flexible, allowing students to take classes on a part-time basis and/or at their own pace, subject to certain guidelines or restrictions (such as a requirement that students complete the program within two or three years of enrolling). In addition, many schools offer online graduate certificate programs, thereby maximizing the flexibility, convenience, and reach of these programs.
Online social media graduate certificate programs provide the same training and instruction as campus-based programs but do so using distance-learning technologies that deliver all or most of a program’s coursework via interactive, internet-based platforms, commonly referred to as a learning management systems (LMSs). Students in an online program use the school’s LMS to stream live and/or pre-recorded lectures, participate in virtual classroom sessions, complete interactive learning modules, and access other course materials. Some programs utilize synchronous instruction, which is the technical term for instruction that takes place in real time, such as lectures that are streamed live via an LMS. Other online programs rely on asynchronous instruction, which encompasses instructional activities that do not have a real-time component, such as the viewing of pre-recorded lectures. Both modes of online instruction can be effective. However, synchronous instruction may better suit students who prefer a more structured online learning experience that includes regularly scheduled live classes, while asynchronous instruction provides a greater degree of scheduling flexibility and can work well for students who are organized and self-motivated enough to complete coursework on time in the absence of real-time class meetings.
Most online social media graduate certificate programs do not require students to attend any campus visits and thus can be completed 100% online. However, some programs hold a limited number of campus-based workshops, seminars, and other instructional meetings that students are required to attend. These campus visits are typically short in duration (three to seven days) and few in number (one or two per year), but they do require travel and may be inconvenient for some students. Programs that require more than three or four campus visits are typically classified as hybrid or blended online programs. Hybrid/blended online programs use a mix of campus-based and online instruction and may not be practical for students who live and work outside of commuting range of the school offering the program. For example, some hybrid/blended programs require students to attend weekly or biweekly campus-based classes with supplementary instruction taking place online, while others may offer some courses in a fully online format and other courses in a traditional, on-campus format.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Social Media Marketing and Management
Each of the schools listed below offers an online graduate certificate program with a social media marketing/social media management curriculum. These programs are meant to provide a representative overview of the types of programs currently offered online by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Social Media program that has a social media marketing curriculum, including coursework in marketing strategies and social media marketing campaigns. The program consists of four core requirements and one elective that students select from among the many upper-level graduate courses in marketing offered online by SNHU. The program is designed for students who hold a minimum of bachelor’s degree and can be completed in as few as six months. No campus visits are required to complete the program. For additional details, visit SNHU at Snhu.edu.
Georgetown University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Social Media Management program through its School of Continuing Studies (SCS). The program consists of six graduate courses that must be completed within a two-year period. These include courses in writing for social media and social media strategies, as well as an applied capstone course. The Georgetown SCS program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits. It is designed for students who hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a working knowledge of common social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. For additional program details, visit Georgetown University’s SCS at scs.georgetown.edu.
The University of Florida offers an online Social Media Graduate Certificate program through its College of Journalism and Communications. The program has two introductory courses that cover topics in multimedia communication and social media, and two social media marketing concentration courses that address issues in social media branding and advertising. All four of the social media certificate program courses are part of a Master of Arts (MA) in Mass Communication program offered by the University of Florida. The certificate program can be completed in less than one year and does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications at onlinemasters.jou.ufl.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Social Media Marketing
Additional Graduate Certificates in Business
- Graduate Certificate in Construction Management
- Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Engineering Management
- Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management
- Graduate Certificate in Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Project Management
- Graduate Certificate in Six Sigma
- Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management
- Graduate Certificate in Sustainability
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